When people talk about exercise and fat loss in the US, typically we hear people talk about adding more cardio. Your friends and family always assume going to the gym or exercising means going for walks, using the elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike. As healthy as traditional cardiovascular training is for the heart, and as good as it is at burning calories, cardio is not the answer for effective fat loss! At least not the traditional version.
Typically, traditional protocols that most people adhere to for increasing exercise or starting a cardio regime is Low Intensity Steady State cardio (LISS). LISS is great if you are a marathon runner or triathlete, or if you’re a bodybuilder trying to burn a few extra calories without adding more stress to your already very high frequency training program (i.e. 5 or 6 strength training sessions per week). But for the average busy adult looking to improve their general health it may not be the best answer.
LISS Cardio Isn’t Giving You the Most Bang for Your Buck
Traditional LISS cardio protocols burn some calories, yes, but only burning that amount of calories during that cardio training session. This is a great addition to your program when trying to just burn some extra calories. However, when we talk about increasing your metabolism, and reaching your physique goals (i.e. fat loss and toned figure), strength training and high intensity interval training cardio win every time.
High Intensity Interval Training
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will increase your metabolism because your body sees it as metabolically similar to strength training. During both of these exercise bouts you go through what is called gluconeogenesis, which basically means that you burn predominantly the carbohydrates that are stored in your muscle fiber as a source of energy.
During LISS training, you burn mostly body fat. It may seem counter intuitive to choose HIIT or strength training over LISS training because most of us are interested in burning body fat. The truth is, you burn more body fat and calories over time when you increase your metabolic rate from HIIT or strength training; up to 50% more calories over the next 48 hours than you would from just doing LISS training. A typical LISS training session will take 45 minutes to an hour while having little effect on your metabolic rate, where a typical HIIT session will take 20-30 minutes and burn calories for hours and days following that HIIT cardio session.
Resistance Training a.k.a. Strength Training
In comparison, strength sessions will take 45-75 minutes but have many additional health benefits. Strength training increases your metabolic rate, just like HIIT cardio, but it also builds muscle. Building muscle makes you strong which helps make normal day-to-day tasks, like carrying in the groceries easier, and it gives you that fit, toned look everyone is striving for.
If you are looking to get back in shape, start with strength training and look into adding high intensity cardio.
Nutrition: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Most people believe that to see fat loss (and your scale weight decrease) you need to exercise harder. But let me tell you, you will not be able to out-train poor nutrition habits. Strength training and HIIT cardio every week is a great start, but to see the changes you want in your physique you need to be making healthy food choices. Check out another of our blogs talking about the Secret to Fat Loss.
Progressive Performance has the coaches you need to safely (and effectively) improve your health, lose fat, and building a lifestyle worth living.
To get started on your fat loss journey and learn how to strength train safely and effectively, grab your spot in our 28 Day Jumpstart program today!